Thanks to their massive colony sizes and ability to hide within building structures, termites are one of the most destructive pests and can cause serious damage to homes. Even if you’ve taken care of one nasty infestation, termites can return if proper precautions are not put in place.
Luckily, there are some simple tips you can use to keep termites from returning to your property by creating an inhabitable environment. Using a wood mulch alternative, keeping moisture away from your foundation, and eliminating wood-to-earth contact are all ways you can keep termites from revisiting the same spots.
If you’ve recently had a termite infestation, prevention strategies are going to be the easiest way to prevent these destructive pests from returning. So buckle up and read on to learn about some simple yet effective ways to keep termites away for good.
- Termites search relentlessly for a suitable source of wood to feed on and may return because of an available food source.
- By the time termite damage is detected, colonies may have grown to substantial numbers.
- Eliminating what attracts termites can prevent them from returning to the same area.
What Really Causes Termites To Return?
This is an understandable question to ask if you’ve recently gone through the hassle of ridding your home of termites. What could make them come back for more?
To put it simply, termites will search endlessly for their favorite food source: wood. Even if you recently hired a professional to take care of your termite problem, there is no guarantee they will stay away for good if your home is an attractive food source.
Additionally, termites can easily return to your property if the environment is attractive to them. Even if your property is structurally sound, as long as moisture is present and there is a way for termites to enter your foundation, they can return with a hungry vengeance.
This is why it’s necessary to put preventative measures in place to create an inhabitable environment for termites.
Why Termites Are Difficult to Control In the First Place
There are two main reasons why termites are difficult to eliminate from your home: colony size and how long it takes for damage to be detected.
Some termite colonies consist of several million soldiers and workers who all contribute to structural damage. Utah State University tells us that some colonies eat up to one pound of wood a day!
Damage Is Difficult To Detect At First
Because of their small size and tendency to live underground and inside structures, it can take homeowners years to notice termite damage. To get an idea of where these nasty pests hide, check out our guide on the places where termites live.
How to Identify Termite Damage
Unfortunately, termite damage can be tricky to catch early since they tend to wreak havoc on unseen areas of your home’s structure. Here is an overview of the most common types of damage that termites do:
|Description of Damage
|Hollowed or damaged wood, sagging or buckling floors, visible maze-like patterns within wooden structures
|Narrow, pencil-sized tubes along walls, foundations, or other structures, used by termites for travel
|Bubbling or peeling wallpaper, often with mud-like material behind it
|Hollow or papery sound when tapping on wood surfaces, indicating internal termite damage
|Piles of discarded termite wings near windows, doors, or other entry points
|Ceilings that appear to sag or droop, indicating potential termite damage to wooden support structures
Presence Of Flying Termites
Typically, one of the first signs of termites is the presence of “swarmers” or winged termites. Usually, in the springtime, these winged termites will fly away from their colony and make their way inside your home.
If you do happen to discover flying termites inside your home, there is a high chance of an existing infestation since these termites came from somewhere nearby. Additionally, it usually takes swarmers a few years before they fly away from their colonies, meaning they can do a considerable amount of structural damage before being discovered.
You can read more about why termites swarm here.
Another common sign of termite damage is the presence of mud tubes, a type of tunnel termites create using soil, wood, and termite saliva. These small tunnels are what termites use to navigate between soil and above-ground food sources such as your home, deck, or porch.
While inspecting your home for termite damage, be on the lookout for small, narrow structures that resemble tree branches or veins. These unsettling structures can typically be found on your home’s foundation, ceilings, and walls. Not to be confused with larger muddy-looking tubes that mud daubers create.
Now that you know a bit more about the harm termites can cause and what an infestation looks like, let’s examine a few prevention methods that will help keep termites far away from your property.
7 Simple Tips to Keep Termites Away
Now that we have discussed how termites can cause damage and why they are difficult to control, we can talk about how you can keep them away. Keep in mind, while these are some of the most common tips, this isn’t a comprehensive list!
1. Eliminate Wood That’s In Contact With Soil
Problems with termites typically begin when any wooden structure makes direct contact with the soil. Since termites live in soil, they may be able to find a path into your home using wood siding, door frames, and window frames.
To prevent termites from making wood-to-earth contact, keep all wooden structures like siding and door frames at least six inches above ground level.
Depending on the structure of your home, this step may be fairly involved, as it may require pulling the soil away from the foundation or removing the bottom of wood latticework.
If you’re unsure about whether or not your home is inviting termites in through wood-to-earth contact, we recommend contacting a professional pest control company in your area. They will be able to properly assess what structural changes your home may need. Our nationwide pest control finder can connect you with a pest specialist in your neighborhood!
2. Keep Moisture Away From Your Home’s Foundation
Two of the most common types of termites, damp wood termites and subterranean termites, thrive in humid climates and are attracted to moisture.
To prevent termites from invading your property’s structure, inspect your home’s exterior for any water damage. Even something as simple as a leaky air conditioner unit can create small puddles, thus attracting colonies of termites.
Do a full inspection of your property by testing outdoor faucets, fixing leaky air conditioners, and ensuring any sprinklers and irrigation systems are orientated away from your foundation. Clean out your gutters regularly to prevent water buildup.
Humidity is one of the deciding factors of why terites prefer to come out at night as opposed to during the daytime to do their damage. For a closer look, check out our article on the reasons why termites come out at night.
3. Store Firewood Away From Your Home
When we think of termites, we usually picture tiny wood-damaging creatures chomping their way through damaged wooden structures. Unfortunately, their appetite does not end there.
Termites are considered detritivores, meaning they will eat almost anything involving dead organic material. This includes paper, old books, insulation, cardboard boxes, and even your stack of firewood.
Even if termites ignore your bundle of firewood as a meal, they can still see it as an incentive to enter your home. If they sense an entrance, they may create tunnels through the wood and into your house. Firewood can even be a way for termites to move from house to house. For a more in-depth look, take a look at our guide on the different ways termites spread from house to house.
To stop termites from re-entering your home, do not stack firewood against your home. Instead, find a place to store wood at least five feet away from your home’s exterior. Use a firewood rack like the Artibear Firewood Rack Stand to properly store your wood.
4. Use Organic Mulch Sparingly
Made from living materials such as chopped leaves, compost, and wood chips, mulch offers many benefits including the reduction of weeds and the retention of water. Great for crops but not so great for hungry termites who are attracted to moisture and organic materials.
Thanks to its high moisture levels and composition of organic material, termites may see mulch as an easy pathway into your home.
If you grow a lot of plants in your yard and enjoy the aesthetic appeal of organic mulch, you don’t need to eliminate it. Simply avoid spreading mulch close to your home’s siding, as direct contact can create a path for termites to enter your home.
5. Switch to Rubber Mulch
If you don’t mind switching things up, rubber mulch is a great alternative to organic mulch.
Not only is rubber mulch a permanent landscaping solution, but it also discourages weed growth, does not absorb water, and keeps insects away.
Additionally, rubber mulch comes in a variety of colors so you can truly design your property’s landscape the way you want to. Check out Playsafer Rubber Mulch Nuggets, a rubber mulch made from recycled tires that is available in multiple colors.
6. Hire a Professional Pest Control Company
With massive colony sizes and their tendency to hide underground or in walls, termites can be extremely difficult to eliminate. It’s no wonder that they cause billions of structural damage per year!
If you’ve followed all of the above tips and you are still noticing termite damage, it might be worthwhile to hire a professional to rid your home of termites through the use of in-ground baits or liquid insecticides.
Most baits and insecticides are considered commercial-grade and should only be used by professionals, so if you wish to take this route, contact a pest control professional today.
7. Utilize Scents That Termites Dislike
Termites use their sense of smell to seek out food sources, such as wood and decaying materials. Using strong scents may help to deter termites from specific areas you want to protect.
Scent deterrents work by masking the smell of food and predators, making it difficult for termites to navigate in areas where the strong scent is present.
Some of the scents that termites hate include:
- Tea Tree
You can find a complete list of the scents that termites hate here!
That’s All For Now!
Termites can be extremely difficult to manage, especially if you’ve already dealt with an infestation in the past. Making your property inhabitable for termites is the first step in preventing these awful pests from wreaking havoc on your home.
To recap, here are 7 tips to prevent termites from revisiting the same spot:
- Eliminate wood that’s in contact with the soil
- Keep moisture away from your home’s foundation
- Store firewood away from your house
- Use organic mulch sparingly
- Use rubber mulch
- Hire a pest control professional
- Utilize scents that termites hate
By reducing moisture around your property, preventing wood-to-earth contact, and closely inspecting your home’s structure, you can stop termites from returning to your home.
If all else fails and you’re struggling to solve your persistent termite problem, it is recommended to contact a pest professional near you. The sooner you act, the better the outcome will be for you and your home.
Cox, C. A. R. O. L. I. N. E. (2004). Protecting your home from subterranean termite damage. Journal of Pesticide Reform, 24(3), 6-7.
Ghaly, A., & Edwards, S. (2011). Termite damage to buildings: Nature of attacks and preventive construction methods. Am. J. Eng. Appl. Sci, 4(2), 187-200.
Jouquet, P., Traoré, S., Choosai, C., Hartmann, C., & Bignell, D. (2011). Influence of termites on ecosystem functioning. Ecosystem services provided by termites. European Journal of Soil Biology, 47(4), 215-222.
Su, N. Y., & Scheffrahn, R. H. (2000). Termites as pests of buildings. In Termites: evolution, sociality, symbioses, ecology (pp. 437-453). Springer, Dordrecht.
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